Reflection of the World

In the old quarters of Milan, the Palazzo della Ragione, a famous exhibition of Sebastião Salgado took place called «Genesis» . The place of exhibition is located just a few steps from the Duomo in the fashionable district of the city. This Palace has been the symbol of the city since 1228, and in recent times, it has been decided to dedicate this historical monument permanently to represent the medium or art form known as photography. This venue, with a specific and recognizable logo allows immediate recognition of this idea, and confirms the city’s renewed interest of this artistic form of communication and expression. It allows the marriage between the Ancient halls and modern art photography to blossom, providing an interesting contrast between the past and the present, in a modern widely accepted medium.


“Palazzo della Ragione Fotografia” opens with “Genesis” by Sebastião Salgado, curated by Lélia Wanick Salgado, a work that details with responsibility the use of the resources of the planet as well as calling for an effective action to preserve the treasures of our Earth for future generations. It should be emphasized that «Genesis» is the first event within the “new photographic deal” at the Palazzo della Ragione Fotografia. The program will continue with further exhibitions such as the photographs of William Klein ( ABC), Walter Bonatti (Nei grandi spazi), Edward Burtynsky (Watermark), and James Nachtwey (Pietas).


The Genesis exhibition has been promoted in many cities, such as Singapore, London, Venice, and of course Milan. Genesis, as Giuliano Pisapia the mayor of Milan has pointed out, “has literally travelled around the world, but in Milan it seems to rise to a deep sense of meaning, for it is just before the Expo, expanding the theme of sustainability.” This exhibition has over 250 works, each one reflects in some way the world. The photos show, like a mirror, a journey around five continents. The project took more than eight years to complete and shows significant moments not only of human beings, but animals, and plants during that time.

Genesis is the epic photo project, which contains a large collection of photos showing nature, animals, people in beauty, which is as large as life. Sebastião Salgado made a long journey around the globe to create this piece of work. In Genesis there are volcanoes and the animal species of the Galápagos, sea lions, the penguins and whales of South Atlantic, jaguars and alligators from Brazilia and African lions, elephants and leopards. Through his photos we are also discover Antarctica’s icebergs, Central Africa’s volcanoes, the glaciers of Alaska and the ravines of the Grand Canyon.


Ironically, perhaps, the project Genesis began in the Galápagos Islands in 2004, 176 years after Charles Darwin’s famous visit marked the beginning of the end for creationism. Since 2004 Sebastião Salgado has produced various stories based on his long travels to the world’s most pristine environments, such as Siberia and mountains of Asia, Antarctica and uncharted jungle, Africa and South America. Genesis is a masterly created project, which shows us the world as it is in all its aspects and verges.

Sebastião Salgado is a famous social documentary photographer and photojournalist. He was born on February 8, 1944 in Aimorés, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He grew up in paradise, on a farm situated in a vast valley called Rio Doce. During Salgado ‘s childhood it was half covered by the Atlantic forest. Also, Salgado belongs to the first generation who left the countryside to study in the town. He studied economics and earned his Master’s degree from the University of São Paulo in Brazil. His life was not easy, it was full of difficult events and incredible situations. He had an active political position and he was very much  involved in the political life of his country. At a young age he and his wife Lélia took part in all protests and the acts of resistance to the regime, and together with their supporters they defended their ideals.


In August, 1969 they boarded the ship and left their country towards France. They were very young and they were forced to do it because of the political situation of the country but no matter what they continued to support their homeland from the faraway France.

Later on, in France the photography came into Sebastião Salgado’s life. In Savoie he and his wife had a possibility to acquire photographic equipment for the best prices in Europe, Lelia needed some to photograph buildings, she was an architect. She chose a Pentax Spotmatic 2 with a Takumar 50mm, f1:4 lens. They knew nothing about photography at that time, but straightaway they thought this camera was fantastic. In Menthonnex, they took their first pictures, read the instructions and 3 days later they returned to Geneva again to buy more lenses. This is how the photography came in Salgado’s life. When he returned to Paris, he created a small photo lab for himself at the Cité Universitaire. And from that moment his career as a photographer took off.

The confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado rivers opening into the Grand Canyon

Sebastião Salgado has traveled in over 100 countries for his «Genesis» photographic projects. Most of these have appeared in numerous press publications and books. He has many famous photo projects which are «Migrations»(2000), «Africa», «Workers»(1993) , «An Uncertain Grace» and «Genesis» . All his photos made in black and white, he has never taken photos in colour, all his photo works are big in size and take years to complete. He always uses big, interconnected themes for his projects such as work, migration, childhood, exploitation, disease, macroeconomics and war. His photos have a very unique structure, they all look as if they were cast in liquid metal. All of this creates a strong impression on the beholder.

These shots are really fascinating. They are very strong and powerful. Salgado’s pictures are indisputably astounding and could be considered as the works of a genius, and therefore great art. Through his photos he shows how he sees the world, therefore his perception of the life around him. Looking at his pictures, one can feel the immensity and magnificence of what we call our planet.


“Sebastião Salgado: From my Land to the Planet” by Sebastião Salgado and Isabelle Franq




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